Alex Nester ’20 was “doxxed” on Twitter by CNN analyst Asha Rangappa last week after Nester raised questions in her reporting for the Washington Free Beacon about Rangappa’s public comments.
“Doxxing” is the practice of publishing personal information for the purpose of encouraging harassment.
Rangappa posted Nester’s email and phone number on Twitter after Nester, an intern at the Free Beacon, contacted Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, which employs Rangappa, for a comment on Rangappa’s criticism of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
On Aug. 25, Rangappa had accused Haley of changing her name to “Nikki” instead of using her given Indian name, “Nimrata.”
Rangappa suggested Haley did so to conform to racist conventions, which she claimed undermined Haley’s comments at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 24 that America isn’t a racist nation.
In her article for the Free Beacon, Nester pointed out that Haley has gone by “Nikki,” her legal middle name, since childhood. In Punjabi, “Nikki” means “little one.” Nester also noted that Rangappa goes by her middle name, “Asha,” rather than her first name, “Renuka.”
Prior to publishing her article, Nester emailed Yale University’s Jackson Institute, requesting a comment on Rangappa’s remark. Nester asked if Rangappa’s tweet was “appropriate.”
Instead of replying to Nester’s request for comment, which is standard journalistic practice, Rangappa proceeded to tweet a screenshot of Nester’s email, which included both her email address and phone number. Rangappa has more than 600,000 Twitter followers.
Rangappa captioned the tweet, “So @FreeBeacon has now contacted my employer to BREAK THE STORY that I go by middle name, just like Nikki. Because this is important news during the RNC.”
Rangappa concluded the tweet by encouraging Twitter users to “respond to Alex.”
Fox News reported that Nester received “dozens of harassing messages from the CNN contributor’s followers.”
In a later tweet bemoaning her previous message being deleted, Rangappa tried to demean Nester by calling her an “intern who presented herself as a reporter” and saying that Nester “tried to Karen” her.
“I stand by my story and my reporting speaks for itself, as does Asha’s tweet,” Nester told the Collegian.
The incident garnered national attention, with both the Post Millennial and National Review magazine picking up the story. News of Nester’s situation even reached Haley herself, who took to Twitter to express her support.
“It is a disgrace that CNN and Yale promote someone who would bully and attack a 22-year old just because she rightly called out her error,” Haley said in a tweet. “I’m proud of [Nester] for using the power of her voice and having courage to accurately report hypocrisy.”
Michael Clark, associate economics professor at Hillsdale College, called Nester one of his “all-time favorite students.” Clark praised Nester for her hard work and character that drove her to fully engage every class’s challenges.
“She’s just a very nice individual that most people can relate to,” he said, “but with a humility and character that makes everyone want to be a bit better. She never put herself above anyone else.”
Nester majored in economics and minored in journalism at Hillsdale College. She was opinions editor of the Collegian and a member of the Rho Gamma chapter of the Chi Omega sorority. Her summer internship at the Free Beacon was sponsored by the College Fix, and this fall, she will continue at the Beacon as part of the Public Interest Fellowship program.